When is blocking justified in a Sprint Cup race? That question arose on the final restart of the NASCAR race at Auto Club Speedway in California two weeks ago.
Tony Stewart confronted Joey Logano on pit lane after the race was over. He said that the young driver blocked him on the final restart.
NASCAR officials said neither incident required a penalty.
Here’s what the Dale Earnhardt Jr., the current points leader thinks of blocking:
“Well, I think that every driver is going to have a different opinion. My opinion is that ‑‑ I don't ‑‑ I might block in certain situations. I would expect and accept to be blocked in certain situations. But you've got to give me racetrack. You've got to give me somewhere to run. You can't just run me up into the fence. You've got to give me a lane. You've got to give me ‑‑ if you give me a reasonable amount of racetrack to race on, then I really can't complain in regards to what you're trying to do to maintain the position.
Also it depends on what time in the race it is. Is it time to be blocking? Is the position that important at that moment in time? Again, everybody will have a different opinion.
But when somebody blocks me, I'm not blown away by the notion. You know, some guys are more adamant about it than others. Some guys block stronger or block the whole racetrack and think that's okay. But everybody has got a different opinion. You've got to give me some racetrack where I can compete, give me a fair opportunity to race you cleanly and race you with respect, and you'll get the same from me.
You know, I'm not going to say that I've never blocked anybody because I have, and you do, you will. Being in certain situations, that's your only alternative. But you've got to give people racing room or expect to get turned around or expect to make a few people upset.”
On the other hand Ryan Newman thinks blocking is not a NASCAR style. As Tony Stewart’s teammate and employee Newman might be a little biased.
“ I think that there were true frustrations in the blocking,” said Newman. “I think blocking is a chicken way to drive, not to ‑‑ it's just something I don't do. If you've got a run on me, take it. If I can get through the corner better than you, then we'll race, but blocking is an IndyCar form or F1 form or an open wheel type move it seems like. It's not to say they don't do it in NASCAR; obviously they do, but to me it's just a chicken way of driving and not very respectful for the guys around you. You're there to race, you're not there to block. So I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know if there will be retaliation, I don't know if they'll talk and never have retaliation, who knows, good question.”